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Is Event Management Your Calling? Exploring Transferable Skills

It’s official, you’re making a career change and considering event management as your alternative... but how do you know if your skills are suited?

Especially in today’s competitive employment marketplace, it’s extremely important to do your research before quitting your current job or signing up to training, so what do you need to consider?

Does your experience count?

First of all, it’s important to understand which skills are assets when it comes to event management. As well as core competencies in organisation and communication – in all forms and using a range of media and approaches – there are several other skills which are essential in event management:

 

Now, this is not an exhaustive list as there are many other qualities which will count to a lesser or greater extent, all of which makes it really important to be able to identify where and how you can demonstrate what you can offer as a potential events manager, from your career so far?

The fact is that across your whole education and career to date you’ve been developing many of these very same transferable skills and strengths which will certainly benefit you in an event management position, it’s just a case of identifying how and where you can offer evidence of these valuable skills.

Consider your education

Whatever level of education you have, there will be aspects of the education process itself which will demonstrate some of those competencies. For example, if you’ve studied for and obtained a degree you’ll have a good set of skills ideally suited to event management:

Multi-tasking:

Studying involves many aspects of learning, including research, acting upon information received, evaluating sources and resources, writing, feeding back and even presenting, so any success in gaining a qualification will demonstrate your an ability to multi-task to a greater or lesser extent.  This also includes your abilities across some of the key tasks involved in event planning, such as:

 

Time-management:

Once out of compulsory education, the time-management required for studying is very much in your own hands, so academic success is an easy way to demonstrate your skills in time-management and ability to meet deadlines to a would-be employer.

Budget management:

Further and higher education doesn’t come cheap and any study involves costs and working (and living) to a strict budget. Event clients will also have their own budgets in mind, so success in juggling your studying with your finances can be a good example of being able to budget well with client cash too.

Consider your career

Some career backgrounds slot easily into event management. Careers in industries such as marketing; business; communication; design; PR; logistics; project management and hospitality have a natural overlap with many of the core competencies required for event management.

However, unless you’re particularly diligent about working in accordance with your job description and being aware of every nuance of your daily working tasks, most of us find it particularly hard to outline everything that the skills-set of our current career offers in an alternative field. Certainly, we tend to think of mapping our career in terms of the tasks we are now able to do, rather than the transferable skills which such regular tasks have developed for us.

So, when considering the tasks you regularly undertake, also consider the skills which enable you to carry out these tasks in the context of event management. Although this sounds easy enough, it’s actually quite hard to identify everything in a skill-based way, but there are some good resources out there to help. The Vitae Research Development Framework is a good example of a resource designed to help researchers identify their own strengths and attributes (source: blogs.nature.com). Even if your career is in no way related to research, the key aspects of the framework provide prompts from which to identify attributes gained in your own field in areas such as:

 

Once you start to think about your current role in terms of the competencies you use to fulfill the tasks on your job description, you’re well on the way to identifying a whole set of transferable skills which can be used in event management.

Make those skills transferable

After identifying the skills your regularly use and have developed as strengths in your current role, all that’s left is to match them across to those core competencies required by event managers. This is a great way to identify the strengths you already have, as well as those you might need to further develop as part of your potential role in event management.

If you’re not sure where to start, or what skills are required for event management, the UK’s National Careers Service offers a useful list of desirable qualities for the role. Then it’s just a case of identifying where the skills you have are suitable, for example like this:

 

Essentially this list is limitless, as literally all the skills and experience you’ve gained so far may be relevant to the role in some way… you just have to tease out where and how so that you can demonstrate to events employers or event management training providers that you have what it takes to be successful in your new role.

Ask not what you can bring to events management…

Now that you’ve identified what you can bring to the role of events management, if you’re still not quite sure if it’s the career for you then there are two final actions you can take.

Firstly, you’ve focused on what skills you can offer in events management, but take a moment to also consider what a career in events management can offer you by making a list of what you want from your new career. For instance, if you’re not keen on working with people and you want to work 9 to 5 only, to ensure your optimum work-life balance, then events management may not be for you because people are at the heart of the profession and, although 9 to 5 is possible some of the time, in the run up to a big event you could find yourself in demand outside of ‘office’ hours, including evenings and weekends. Use what you want from the role to help you identify whether an events management role will suit you personally.

And finally, try volunteering at a local, national or international event, to help you gain sector experience and knowledge and to find out if event management really is your calling at a practical, as well as potentially professional level.

Events could be the fresh start you're looking for